Howdy there partner. It’s Friday, we’re still all happy after the Dortmund victory (aren’t we?), plus we’ve got a game tomorrow to look forward too in the shape of West Bromwich Albion at lunchtime on a Saturday. Arsène will deliver his update to us on injuries and even the horrid news about Wilshere being out for three months and Arteta being out after his calf problem from Wednesday night can’t put me too down at the moment. Well, maybe a little, but after being a bit of a ‘Neg’ recently, I’m inclined to bask in a little bit of success after our Champions League qualification was secured.
I’m also feeling happy for a particular Welshman who, to this gooners eyes, looked to be approaching a semblance of his old self on the Emirates turf against the yellowness of Dortmund. He was tidy in possession, there was a distinct lack of tricks and flicks, but he still busted a gut to get across the pitch. On Tuesday at the pre-match conference he said he felt like he was getting back up to full speed and hopefully this is more like what he meant, although I wouldn’t say wayward passing and random Cruyff turns has anything to do with fitness, personally. But hey, what do I know, right?
If it is true, that he does feel like his ‘old-new’ self from last season, then that bodes well for the coming months. With Jack confirmed as a long term absentee, you have to look at someone like Aaron filling the void, and filling well during this winter period. There have been lots of questions that have been raised as to whether the two can play together, but Arsène has had that particular opportunity to prove the doubters wrong by the ridiculous challenge by McNair last weekend. I personally think that given enough minutes together on both training pitch and actual game time, any top level professional athletes can learn to feed off one another’s strengths. People might argue that Lampard and Gerrard prove that this isn’t the case, but I don’t believe that they actually had any real opportunity to develop that ‘on the field’ bond for England, hence why it never happened.
Anyway, I’m digressing, because my line of thinking today is about Aaron Ramsey and how important he will be to this team over the coming months and for the duration of the season. He is the player that sits between the deep lying midfielder and the number ten and is the one that has to both defend and attack. The most natural of all of our box-to-boxer’s, I think we’ll see a good festive period for our Welsh Jesus. The more I’ve watched him over the years, the more it occurs to me that his game seems to be more intrinsically linked to his confidence levels, than almost any other Arsenal player. They all get affected by dips in form, but it appears as though Rambo suffers more, probably because of his work ethic and desire to work harder to correct any imperfections in his game. He’s a trier, there’s nobody that can dispute that, but when he tries too much he suffers all the more. It’s why Arsène has publicly said he needs to just focus on doing the basics well and the rest will come.
Perhaps it’s a bit of a catch 22 situation with him when you look at our form as a team too. I think he needs a run of three or four good, solid, ‘back to basics’ games before it will all click back into gear for him. But so does the team. Arsenal have shown over recent past that they are quite capable of putting together winning runs, which you think we really need to start doing, like now. But our performances are contingent on our best players playing well. If Ramsey is playing well, then the team will more often play well and increase their probability of victory. But in order for Ramsey to get back to his best, he probably needs the rest of the team to step up and carry us to a few victories. So both are as reliant on each other to move into what I suppose Andre Vilas Boas would call a ‘positive spiral’.
With tricky Micky Arteta out for an extended period of time, it’s probably more important that Aaron gets his defensive work right first though, because with Flamini as the holding midfielder, you do fear for our propensity for being opened up against most Premier League sides. A deeper lying Ramsey to sit alongside Flamini more often, will help to break up the play more than one bombing forward and being caught in possession. That Rambo (the defensive-minded one) needs to be trotting out onto the Hawthorns pitch tomorrow.
There’s a few other titbits of information that is knocking around this morning, but until Le Boss gives us an injury update in preparation for tomorrow’s game, I don’t really think it’s worth talking about how players are ‘back on track’. If we get to the New Year and we’ve won all of our games, let’s call it that, but until then I remain to be convinced.
Convince me lads, convince me.